Written by Sarah Hilary — Have you been following Bath-based crime author Sarah Hilary’s career so far? Here at Crime Fiction Lover we’ve been with the writer, and Met police officers DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake with all of their quirks and foibles, from the beginning. It started with Someone Else’s Skin in 2014, and Marnie Rome has always been a character with great depth. We are certainly plunged to the very seabed with the fifth book in the series.
Come and Find Me begins in explosive fashion – literally – with a prison riot at HMP Cloverton which sees several prisoners dead and several more hospitalised, including two in intensive care. One of these is Ted Elms, who is in a coma. The second is Stephen Keele, Rome’s stepbrother and the man who murdered her mother and father and has never come clean about his reasons for doing so. Having a killer for a brother has plagued Rome’s thoughts throughout the series.
Meanwhile, Ted’s cellmate Michael ‘Mickey’ Vokey has vanished and the cell has been badly damaged by the flames. There’s not much for the team to go on, but what really happened is gradually revealed to us by Ted, who can do nothing but think as he lies comatose in his hospital bed. He knows Mickey well – and what he could tell you would blow the case wide open… if only he could talk. Instead, a macabre discovery at the home of Vokey’s late mother leads Rome, Jake and the crew to concentrate on the fan mail sent to Vokey, who was in prison for the aggravated assault of a woman while her young daughter looked on. Two correspondents in particular catch the attention of the police. Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull appear to be in Vokey’s thrall – could they be harbouring this dangerous fugitive?
First impressions of the obsessed pair are shattered when they are interviewed. Ruth is a pious woman, hell-bent on giving the ‘misunderstood’ Vokey a second chance. Lara’s letters are racy to the point of being pornographic but when they finally meet her, Rome and Jake are surprised by what they find. Hilary is adept at adding layer upon layer to her multi-stranded stories and both Rome and Jake have personal problems that threaten to take their focus off the job at hand. Vokey is clearly a danger, but can the detectives get their acts together and find him before he commits another vicious crime?
Mothers and children, and the myriad nuances of their relationships, weave through this novel and you’ll run the gamut of familial dysfunction before you turn that final page. We’ve reached book five in the Marnie Rome series and all of the characters are well bedded in, but Hilary has a few tricks up her sleeve that will show things in a different light. This author delights at toying with your emotions and many of the revelations will leave you reeling, sometimes misguidedly.
Come and Find Me is an enjoyable read, but why did I somehow feel a little deflated as I read it? Once that exciting opening chapter is out of the way, there’s plenty of introspection and soul searching which tend to slow things down as the investigation progresses step by meticulous step. Stephen Keele and his slyly controlling ways are missed as a point of intrigue, and it’s disappointing that Rome’s partner Ed only appears fleetingly. After the initial fireworks, things seem to fizzle out a touch – but that’s not to say I won’t be champing at the bit when book six comes around.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars